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I’ll celebrate Valentine’s for my kids sake

Before I settled down to raise children, I would occasionally celebrate Valentine’s Day. We did not go out like most people do, but some chocolate and an appropriate card were more than enough to mark the day.

Most parents I know put the needs of their children first, and theirs as a couple second. But this need not be the case.

I believe that children flourish when the relationship between their parents is loving and affectionate. 

Children are extremely observant, and very keen to understand their environment. My daughter recently asked me how babies make the transition from inside their mother’s wombs into the world after we watched a local programme in which a pregnant actress went into labour.

Social creatures

Because humans are programmed to be social creatures, children strive to learn how people relate to one another.

From their early lives, they become accustomed to a certain routine in their homes. My wish is that my children grow up knowing that the ‘normal’ routine in their house is loving and warm. And not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day. 

When I was a child, I had no inkling that adults living together ever had disagreements. Since I never witnessed my parents engage in a shouting match, or a punch-up, I assumed that everybody else was equally civilised.

It was normal for me to have parents who were attentive to each other and their children as well. 

From conversations with friends and colleagues, it seems to me that many couples at the onset of their relationship portray themselves as always lovely and sweet tempered, not minding each others’ irritating little habits.

Then, after the wedding – like the woman named Ayo in the African short story The Truly Married Woman – we lower the boom.

Being considerate is tossed out the window, and children get accustomed to parental facial expressions which resemble those of pirate captains forcing mutineers to walk the plank. 

After a few years of marriage, in keeping with advice given by several married couples, I resolved that I would be as deaf, dumb, and blind as a trio of Hong Tze monkeys, to my spouses’ wrongdoings.

Keeping elaborate flowcharts depicting grudges going back years does no good for the relationship, and negatively affects the children.

Watching my parents, I knew for a certainty that I desired to live a peaceful life, under laid by mutual respect and civility; every day was a Valentine’s Day. 

Good idea

While it is a good idea for me to sit my daughter down and explain to her how she should find someone who treats her right, she will have drawn her own conclusions about how people treat each other from watching how her dad and I relate to each other on ‘normal’ days. 

Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest that when disagreements arise, as they are bound to, they are resolved amicably.

So, this Valentine’s, parents should ask themselves what their children see when they look at them as they go about their normal lives. 

Do you regularly show affection to your significant other, or does the way you treat each other give the nasty impression that marriage and parenthood is a landfill of unhappiness and regrets?

By all means, I will celebrate this day, and even go a step further and keep it up for the rest of the year – for my children’s sake.